India is preparing itself to observe the 74th Independence Day. This year’s celebration will be different—the Independence Day 2020 function at the Red Fort is going to be carried out with extra precautions and less crowd. A tight security blanket is thrown across the country not only to avoid any possible terror strike, but also to contain the further spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected people in millions. Independence Day 2020 will be marked by a sombre function as the nation witnesses the medical personnel and healthcare frontliners giving it all they have to save lives during the pandemic. It’s different and ironic, at the same time. 15th August is a time to celebrate the country’s independence from the British Raj, but this year, a virus seems to have taken its place—restricting our movements and in a way monitoring our freedom. It won’t be wrong saying that a pandemic is making us realise the value of independence, of freedom in the most accurate form.

How? There can be two ways to look into the argument. First, we cannot move as freely as we used to before March 2020. These restrictions are particularly problematic for those who need to move in order to find safety and for whom a self-quarantine is hardly an option. Yes, the situation is grim, and it would be a serious mistake to underestimate the obvious danger of infection, loss of life, the collapse of health services and the economy. We have seen a lot, already, in the past five months. Nonetheless, there is a need to stress that this phase of uncertainty entails the risk of ‘normalising’ policies that restrict freedoms, rights and independence in the name of crisis and public safety. From Making Tricolour-Inspired Food to Singing Patriotic Hindi Songs, Here’s How You Can Celebrate Socially Distant 74th I-Day on 15th of August. 

Secondly, we are being forced to stay indoors. ‘Stay home, stay safe,’ has become a slogan this pandemic. Now, since we are all staying at home, the importance of being an ‘independent’ inside the house has become quite a challenge, and we all have so far succeeded, in a lot of ways. Cooking, baking and trying new recipes, is almost everyone’s favourite pastime. Social media has been awash with netizens sharing how their lives are changing due to the coronavirus pandemic. Online classes, work from home, dividing housework between partners, going back to the lost hobbies (like paintings and reading), and so much more—we all have found our independent ways to continue our battle to flatten the curve. Independence Day 2020 Tricolour Face Mask: Here's How You Can Make DIY Indian Flag Face Mask amid Coronavirus Pandemic on August 15. 

This pandemic has shaken the foundation of independence in both positive and negative ways. No, the intention here is not to compare the pandemic with the freedom struggle era. More than two-thirds of the country’s population was born in an independent India. While most of the battles transcend fundamental civilian rights, the current situation presents this new challenge—something, at least, Gen Z was not prepared for.

The youth of the country, who has read stories of the freedom struggle, had not really experienced what a life full of restrictions could have been. And this time, the "enemy" is unknown. We are all masked, struggling to meet even relatives, friends, some, even their parents. The value of freedom is being realised now more than ever. There's going to be another day of freedom for the entire world when it becomes free of COVID-19.

(The opinions expressed in the above article are of the author and do not reflect the stand or position of LatestLY.)

(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Aug 14, 2020 02:52 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website